Dr. Helen

Death on Foot: More Pedestrians Killed

I saw an article linked on Drudge about more people dying while walking:

Pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. have skyrocketed 46% since 2009, creating an emerging public health crisis as researchers grasp to understand the reasons.

The increases far outpace growth in overall traffic deaths, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Almost 6,000 pedestrians — people who might have been out for a walk after dinner, hurrying to get to work or rushing to cross a street — were killed by motor vehicles on or along America’s roads in 2016, the latest year for which numbers are available. That’s almost twice the number of deaths tied directly to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Put another way, more Americans are dying each year as they walk than have died in combat in Iraq since 2003.

The question for policy makers and others is what explains the dramatic increase….

Distraction behind the wheel, texting while walking and even marijuana legalization have all been tagged as potential culprits in past research.

In addition, a new study released Tuesday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows an 81% increase in single-vehicle pedestrian fatalities involving SUVs between 2009 and 2016, based on federal records….

Nationally, more pedestrians die in collisions when they are jaywalking along busy arterial roads. More of those fatalities also occur at night and involve males. Many of these crashes also involve alcohol, though federal safety researchers say that does not explain the increase. In 2016, pedestrians accounted for 16% of traffic deaths; in 2007, that figure was just 11%, according to NHTSA.

If you look at the car next to you on any given day, the driver is often texting, talking on the phone and even eating a large sandwich while driving. Also, many people don’t watch where they are going at all when they walk. People walk in front of cars all the time and expect the driver to notice them but many don’t, and pedestrians don’t follow the rules of the road, like many bikers who weave in and out of traffic. I’m surprised the number of pedestrians or bikers killed isn’t higher.

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